Description - Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge has become a bird watching destination. A four-day birding festival attracts nature lovers worldwide. The refuge is considered the state's premier bird-watching site offering an opportunity to view over 330 recorded species. Visitors can expect to see the Florida scrub jay, roseate spoonbills, snail kites, reddish egrets and cinnamon teals. In addition to the birdlife, the refuge is home to 15 animal species found on the federal endangered or threatened list. This is the greatest number of any national wildlife refuge. Visitors will want to allow enough time to tour the fascinating visitor center, along with cruising the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. This fabulous drive is one of the most memorable drives in America affording an up close view of waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds and a variety of gulls and terns.
Copyright: Patty Elton-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Observation decks at Merritt provide exquisite viewing
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge rests on the John F. Kennedy Space Center, east of Titusville along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately one half the refuge's 140,000 acres consists of brackish estuaries and marshes. The remaining lands consist of coastal dunes, scrub oaks, pine forests and flatwoods, and palm and oak hammocks. The coastal location is semitropical contributing to the importance as a major wintering area for migratory birds. More than 500 species of wildlife can be found on Merritt Island.
Recreation - Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge offers its visitors a tremendous bird-watching opportunity, so much that in recent years an annual November bird festival has become a popular attraction. The refuge offers a visitor center where tourists can learn about the diverse ecosystem along with the tremendous variety of bird species. Education programs are held throughout the year. Boating, paddling, hiking and fishing are old-time favorites. Be sure to allow enough time for the six-mile driving tour. This short drive is so enthralling, some have been known to linger over two hours. Hiking trails cut through the drive offering an opportunity to stretch weary legs and also get a different perspective of the refuge's birdlife. Don't forget your binoculars and camera! Note: this refuge borders the Kennedy Space Center; consequently, the wildlife drive is closed during shuttle lifts.
Climate - The eastern coast of central Florida is usually hot and humid with thunderstorms throughout summer. Average summer temperatures range between 81 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit (27 - 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging 58 - 64 degrees Fahrenheit (14 - 18 Celsius). Typical yearly precipitation ranges from less than 52 inches to about 56 inches. Lightweight clothing and sunscreen are highly recommended during the summer months. Sweaters and jackets are appropriate attire in winter.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge rests on the John F. Kennedy Space Center, east of Titusville, Florida. The Visitor Center is located along State Route 402. The driving tour begins along State Route 406.